Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally a Right Approach for Afghan War

If these reports are any true (Washington Post and AP News) it is very clear that President Obama is finally asking real questions which need to be raised in the case:
- how can America's commitment be close ended instead of being open ended and
- how can America sustain increased involvement when the Karzai government is incapable to provide the basic partnership based on non-corrupt governance to win hearts and minds of Afghan people.

Implicit to all militarist solutions demanding increasing American soldiers in that theater is an assumption that in these early stages of Afghan Nation State History, you got to work with a corrupt government and that is the price of eventually calming down or stabilizing Afghanistan. But when the level corruption at any time negates any realistic possibility of nation building, we need reexamination of such assumptions. A stead fast refusal of this assumption is what is required and whenever President Obama shows that courage, we Americans are in far better shape. What better and significant it can be than Commander-in-Chief showing this maturity and steely character on Veterans Day.

Argument is what can you do even if the local government is corrupt and incapable of cultivating a government which eventually, in finite amount of time, would take over the task of pacifying the population and rule towards prosperity? What can you do is, you can use Predators in such cases if there is no point in putting additional American boots on the ground. America will be least liable in those cases to bomb a region in pursuit of self interest, the region which does not show any sign whatsoever of throwing up any viable partner. If President Karzai wants to show the disdain of American nation building efforts by claiming that the only thing Americans are bothered about is fighting terrorism and no longer term prosperity of Afghans, let him demonstrate that by staying in power for a week without American support. That weak weed will be over run by Talibans in no time. Precisely these tendencies of local powers to blackmail America have to be avoided and if President Obama shows that clarity in dealing with that one Mr. Karzai, that will be one giant step for America's Foreign Policy and a true response to extricate America from losing mechanisms by which America engages with rest of the world.

Argument will be, did we not do similar things in Iraq - partner with corrupt local politicians? But there are number of reasons why that analogy cannot be applied straight forward to Afghanistan - Iraq had had at least 3 credible elections compared to Afghanistan where the election has come a cropper. Iraq had had number of institutions which could help in rebuilding the nation whereas Afghan has literally no institutions and hence it is imperative that the first modern institution - the central government - functions. That does not function and then there is no hope of it working as long as the level of corruption is not reduced dramatically.

So the right approach is to question why there needs to be unconditional support to Karzai government. To imagine and to dare to think possibilities of conducting America's security interests without subjugating the policy to sheepish following of open ended engagements, are the precise reasons why President Obama was elected. Any time a politician walks the road promised to his voters, we have got fulfillment of the mandate.


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